The Word Guy / Knowledge

'Lay' or 'Lie'? Oh My!

Q. Has it become acceptable to use "lay" instead of "lie," as in "the dog is laying down"? I hear and see many reporters, journalists and other well-educated people using "lay" for "lie." -- Hilde Reichenbach, Essex, Conn.

A. Hilde, I hereby ...

Clarity Is Not an Option

Today, three dispatches from the Word Front...

--Double Talkers -- Bill from Acton, Mass., notes the double meaning of a sentence from the rules governing public meetings in his town. They state that people must speak politely and respectfully,...

Telling Some Tattle Tales

Pssssst. Have you heard the latest about the origins of "gossip," "scuttlebutt" and "canard"? The histories of these rumor-related words are really quite dishy...

Don't mention this to anyone, but "gossip" comes directly from God. The Old ...

The Briticisms Are Coming!

Do you wish the phrase "go missing" would go missing? Do you cringe whenever someone says "spot on" or refers to a redhead as a "ginger"?

No worries, love. You've been "Limey-ed": covered with the smarmy goo of British expressions, spellings ...

Do You Want Capitals with That?

Q. Is it "French fries" or "french fries"? Is it "Swiss cheese" or "swiss cheese"? I have seen them both ways. My wife is Swiss! -- William Nicholson via email

A. Why do I get the feeling that, in your household, there's a lot riding on my ...

Errors Inflict 'Mind Game' Headaches

Mrs. Malaprop, a character in Richard Sheridan's play "The Rivals," replaced familiar terms with similar-sounding words and phrases, often with hilarious results. Can you find 35 malapropisms in this character profile?

My eccentric uncle, Mal A...